Migrations Unplugged?

The first thing I need to do this week is make a quick correction to last week's column, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scalability but Were Afraid to Ask" ( http://www.winnetmag.com/Article/ArticleID/42681/42681.html ). I mentioned that you could use the Diskpart tool to realign disk partitions. The correct name of the tool I was referring to is the Diskpar utility (no "t").

Microsoft TechEd is only a few weeks away, and I'm seeing a lot of discussion about the process of migrating from Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange Server 2003. However, another migration topic--namely, migration from other mail systems--isn't getting much press. Have Microsoft migration tools kept pace with product releases from Exchange competitors? To answer this question, let me segment competing systems into four broad categories, in ascending order of commercial popularity:

- Assorted systems such as Fischer International Emc2/TAO, HP OpenMail, and Samsung Contact. Mail systems in this category lack a wide deployment base.

- Various IMAP or POP-based systems such as the Netscape email server, Oracle Collaboration Suite, and Rockliffe Systems MailSite. These systems have fairly little in common except that they all offer basic email functionality (with or without directory integration) and are often found in cost-sensitive environments.

- Novell GroupWise 6.5. For several years, GroupWise appeared to be a moribund product, but Novell has recently begun aggressively promoting the product.

- IBM Lotus Notes/Domino. The current release, 6.5.1, is essentially the same as Notes/Domino 6, from a messaging standpoint (even though the client is quite different). Therefore, I'll treat these two releases as one product.

To migrate to Exchange from products in the assorted-system category, you'll need a third-party tool. In fact, for most of these systems, you actually need a consulting firm such as CompuSven or Simpler-Webb because the migration process is complicated (and occasionally painful).

To migrate mail data from pretty much any IMAP or POP server, you can use the familiar Migration Wizard (available in recent versions of Exchange). If the product you're migrating from supports Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP), you can use the wizard to extract directory data, too. For systems that export to some other format, you might need to write a script or use Microsoft Excel to massage the output data into a comma-separated value (CSV) file that the wizard can use. (Read the Microsoft article "Introduction to the Enhanced Migration Wizard" at http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=278017 for more information about the migration wizard and what you can use it to do.)

GroupWise mail migrations require you to use the Migration Wizard to move mail and calendar data. For connectivity during the migration, you can use the Microsoft GroupWise connector, but it isn't supported for use with the two most recent versions of GroupWise. The exact process of setting up the correct GroupWise client version, tweaking it to work with the connector, and successfully moving mail is somewhat murky; therefore, most migrations involve the use of skilled consultants and third-party tools. As far as I can tell, Microsoft doesn't plan to update the connector any time soon, which is odd given GroupWise's recent rebirth as an all-singing, all-dancing Linux-based product.

For Notes/Domino compatibility, Microsoft offers two connectors: one for messaging and directory connectivity, and one for calendar synchronization. (For more information about Notes/Domino-to-Exchange migration, see the Microsoft white paper "Microsoft Exchange 2000 and Lotus Domino Coexistence and Migration" at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&familyid=fb830ac9-3939-4bf2-aca8-03e011049179; other useful white papers are available on the Microsoft Web site.) These connectors are known to work with Notes/Domino R6 and R5, but no official statement of support for Notes 6.5x exists on the Microsoft Web site. In fact, although the site offers several useful documents about migrating Notes-based applications to Exchange, I found very little mention of Notes/Domino-to-Exchange 2003 messaging migration.

On the surface, it seems odd that Microsoft offers relatively little support for migrating away from GroupWise and Notes/Domino--arguably Exchange's two biggest competitors. I'm not sure if Microsoft realizes that third parties such as CompuSven and Wingra Technologies offer comprehensive migration tools that would be expensive for Microsoft to duplicate or whether Microsoft views the development, testing, and support resources it would need to bring its existing migration tools up to date as being better spent elsewhere. Either way, if you want to migrate to Exchange 2003 from a non-Exchange system, you might not be able to do so using only free, built-in Exchange tools.

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